- Professor Clarence Lang offers insight into recent tragedy and racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri
- Audio: Professor Clarence Lang offers insight into recent tragedy and racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri
In 1943, KU Chancellor Deane W. Malott recommended that the University of Kansas create an academic major on American subjects that would “cut across the existing departmental and group barriers,” strengthen liberal arts education, and better prepare students to be productive and informed citizens. A liberal arts education, he argued, was intended to offer students a “broad understanding of life” for solving the “great and complex problems of the present day.” His appeal led to the development of an American Civilization major and program, and eventually Department of American Studies. Today, American Studies at KU serves of KU’s liberal arts curriculum. Here, faculty and students think critically about the multiple meanings of the United States in global context, particularly with regard to culture, society, and identity.
Our faculty members teach and research within and across the fields of history, anthropology, literature, visual culture, sociology, race and ethnic studies, women and gender studies, disability studies, religion, and more. A sample of the courses we offered this past year include: Jewish American Pop Culture, American Identities, Religion in American Society, Aging and Film, Comic Books and Film, The 1950s, African American Childhood and Youth in Film, Kansas Art & Popular Culture, and America’s Latinos and Latinas, to name a few.
American Studies at KU is a leader among its regional and national peers. Our faculty members and students engage beyond the classroom. They share their thinking and research through popular media, performance, and civic engagement. Our faculty members exemplify leadership in the discipline of American Studies and in their respective subfields of scholarship, publishing regularly in major periodicals, academic and popular presses. And few departments can boast the presence and editorship of two journals, American Studies Journal and Women, Gender, and Families of Color
Through studying topics such as film, jazz, literature, visual culture, gender, race and religion, American studies investigates the United States in the present and the past, beyond both disciplinary and national boundaries. Given our recognition of the critical impact of difference and power, we insist that a student's program of study consider the profound impact of diversity on society and address differential power structures. Given this, our students are primed for a 21st century workforce – one that demands critical skills in reading, writing, research, an understanding of social and cultural diversity, lifelong learning, and critically involved citizenship. Our alumni are located in varied public and private sector careers such as journalism, education, social service, human resources, business administration, corporate administration, law, publishing, museums, and public radio.
Undergraduates may pursue a Bachelor’s of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor’s of General Studies (B.G.S.) Minor in Latino/a Studies, and/or Minor in American Studies. At the graduate level, we offer a Master’s of Arts (M.A.), a joint M.A. in American Studies and Urban Planning, a doctorate (Ph.D.), and, as of this year, a Graduate Certificate in American Studies. We welcome all students regardless of status and non-degree seeking students are encouraged to enroll in our courses.
We hope that you consider American Studies as you think about the goals of your education. We will do our best to work with you to design the learning experience that best contributes to your personal and intellectual development, and your professional aspirations.
Jennifer Hamer, Chair